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Former officer rides across US for PTSD awareness

Jeff Shepherd stops in SLC to talk to police about mental disorder

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) A former police officer stopped in Utah amid a month-long motorcycle ride across the country. 

For Jeff Shepherd, it is not a joyride. He wants more people to know about post traumatic stress disorder's (PTSD) effects on first responders.  
The former officer worked in Washington State until an ambush shooting and later, an IED explosion lead to debilitating PTSD.

"Never in a million years did I think I'd be diagnosed with PTSD," he said Thursday outside the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building.

The close-calls that should have taken his life still haunt Jeff Shepherd six years later. 

"I started noticing some changes. I wasn't able to sleep. If I did fall asleep, I'd have nightmares," he said. 

Despite years of intensive therapy, the officer and firefighter was forced to walk away from the career he loved.  

While common in combat veterans, the mental disorder frequently disrupts first responders. 

"It takes a toll on you seeing that stuff. People don't realize the things that we go through. The names you get called, people spitting on you; it's a tough job," he said. 

Shepherd's Ride 4 Relief aims to raise $10,000 for the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation. 

Shepherd left Seattle this week and will stop in cities across the US. He will finish at the grave of a soldier who died after a PTSD diagnosis in Virginia. 

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